Friday, June 24, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Subject of New Errol Morris Film Claims Fabrication

Joyce McKinney, in blue, talks about Errol Morris's Tabloid
UPDATE (6/28/2011): Mark Lipson, a producer for Tabloid (as well as a few other Errol Moris films, including The Thin Blue Line), has responded to the story as told below. Lipson notes that Showtime is indeed a partner on the film, remarking, "Showtime is in fact a partner in the enterprise of Tabloid." As for the other allegations, Lipson prefered to stay on the sidelines for now. "I agree at some point it would be worth addressing all the various questions. But for now.. certainly for the next couple of months, I would like the movie to speak for itself."

Does this mean that some of the movie is in fact fabricated? My gut says if yes, only by a small bit, as Morris' film is about the impossibility of ever reaching the truth. My take on the story is that McKinney simply beleived that having seen how Morris has created sympathetic portraits of people like Robert McNamara in The Fog of War or the soldiers from Abu Ghraid in Standard Operating Procedure that she would get off with the same sort of nice light on her. The film is somewhat sympathetic in the end anyways, though it certainly allows the other side to have its way as well. Thus, only time will tell if McKinney will have her way.


            Audiences were in laughter and applause tonight at the Museum of Modern Art for an early screening of Errol Morris’s latest film, Tabloid, but they got a second story after the film had ended. Tabloid is the latest documentary from the filmmaker behind The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War. It follows the strange story of Joyce McKinney, who snuck into tonight’s screening in New York, lambasting the film’s validity during the credits and beyond tonight.

Tabloid recounts the story of McKinney, who followed her Mormon boyfriend from Utah, who she believed had been brainwashed by the Mormon Church and sent to the United Kingdom. The girl went with a couple companions to England and stole him back, and then claimed to have three days of passionate sex in a Southern English cottage, some of which included ropes and chains. But Morris shows the sides from others involved in the story, including the reporters that made her a tabloid sensation, which instead reveal kidnap, rape, and other kinky stuff. McKinney escaped charges in court by fleeing to the United States while on bail, but remains a tabloid sensation for years to come.

And while the film tries to give both sides, McKinney is not at all happy with the finished product, and what she thought would be a “love story” is instead a slander piece in her eyes. McKinney got into the MoMA screening tonight wearing a hat, and bringing a number of documents. After the film ended, she stood up in the back and pontificated on her thoughts about the film, and many listened to what she had to say. While I was unable to record the full audio, here are among the claims she made:

·         McKinney claims that Morris gave her a phony contract with Showtime to do a television series, which she had on her. She says that “Showtime—they ain’t never heard of this TV series.” I don’t have the press notes, but I do recall seeing Showtime as one of the financiers and producers of the film, which may make McKinney’s claim irrelevant.
·          “Penthouse Magazine offered me two million for this story. And I said, since I’m a good Christian woman, ‘I’m sorry—I won’t support a magazine with nudity.” This claim stuck out as part of the film covers claims she was a sex worker in Los Angeles before going to England, and a number of nude photographs of her are shown in the film. McKinney claims she did not do the film for money, but because she believed Morris would tell her story correctly. “This is not my story,” she repeated over and over.
·         McKinney claims that “Errol Morris is trying to keep me from telling you guys” and also lambasted his Twitter account. “All he talks about is Joyce MckKinnley, Joyce McKinney, Joyce McKinney.”
·         The film also covers a strange cloning procedure McKinney had to bring back her beloved pitbull named Booger, which the film claims she paid ten million dollars to do so in South Korea. “I have one of the dogs in my car if you want to meet him.” McKinney was upset she could not bring him into the theater, and lambasted the claims that she had abandoned any of the dogs. However, that isn’t really covered in the film, and what these claims refer to was a little blurry.
·         McKinney claims that the film has been disqualified for the 2011 Academy Awards for Best Documentary, because it has been called fiction
What seems most of all is that McKinney is upset by Morris’ style. “People don’t understand my story because the way this [movie] is done,” she exclaimed. She seemed upset by the laughter of the audience (the film is by far, the most comedic film Morris has ever done) and when asked by an audience member what parts weren’t true, she exclaimed “Oh, where do I begin!?”

I’m not sure whether we can believe McKinney, nor whether we can believe Morris. Morris’ film is many parts is about the idea of truth and the impassible truth, and has been one of the most trusted names in documentary filmmaking for shedding the truth—his 1984 film, The Thin Blue Line, told the true story of a cop shooting, and the film was responsible for the innocent suspect that had been charged with the murders.

Tabloid is being released by Sundance Selects, a division of IFC Films, and will reach select theaters on July 15th. Here is the trailer for the film:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was there for the screening too and in hindsight was not surprised she would be there. I stuck around for about 15 minutes and she showed no sign of letting up. How much longer did it go on?